Video game retailers are the most effective at enforcing age-based ratings, according to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) latest undercover shopper survey.
The FTC sent 13- to 16-year-olds, unaccompanied by their parents, into stores and movie theatres to attempt to purchase R-rated movie tickets or DVDs, CDs with a Parental Advisory Label, or Mature-rated video games. The survey found that video game retailers successfully prevented 87 percent of attempted purchases of Mature-rated games by the underage children – the highest percentage among the entertainment industries. Further, four of the top six video game retailers refused to sell Mature-rated games to more than 90 percent of underage shoppers.
The FTC's 2013 survey marks the fourth report in which the video game industry had the strongest performance. These results showcase the successful work of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the self-regulatory body that assigns ratings for video games and apps, and leads the industry's effective enforcement system. The ESRB provides parents with age-based ratings and more than 30 content descriptors that highlight features of a game that factored into the rating or may be of interest or concern. Consumers can also consult the ESRB's rating summaries for more detailed descriptions of games' content.
Additionally, the ESRB collaborates with retailers and game publishers through its Retail Council (ERC) and Advertising Review Council (ARC). The ERC works with retailers to support their policies regarding Mature-rated game sales and posting ratings education signage in their stores. The ARC enforces a broad array of guidelines that ensure games are appropriately labeled and marketed, with violations having the potential to result in fines, corrective actions and other sanctions.